“Hear O Israel”

Ezra reads the LawI am adding another lesson to the series on Ezra and Nehemiah due to their great importance and relevance as we seek to serve God in these perilous times.  We had left Nehemiah with the succesful rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (Oct. 20, 2011 blog “Nehemiah Restores Hope”)  In chapter 8 of Nehemiah we read that the people “gathered as one man” to ask Ezra to bring the book of the law so he could read it to them…”and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”  Ezra stood on a wooden podium, and beside him are listed 13 men, who along with the Levites, explained the law to the people who stood in reverence when Ezra opened the book, but who bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground as   Ezra blessed “the LORD the great God.”  Verse 12 tells us that the people went away to celebrate a great festival because they understood the words which had been made known to them, then proceeded to make booths to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles.  This making of booths had not been practiced since Joshua’s time so there was great rejoicing.  The sons of Israel continued to assemble with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt on them… confessing their sins and worshipping God.  This revival brought about great changes in their behavior.  They separated themselves from  the foreigners of the land, and swore to observe all of the commandments. (Chapters 9-13)

Note the reverence and great honor shown the word of God by the people.  We read in Psalms 119: 30 that the entrance of His Word gives light and understanding to the simple. Jesus states that none of His Words will pass away (Matthew 24:34) and  “…assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:18)   Notice the special regard the LORD bestows on the person who “trembles at His Word” in  Isaiah 66:2…  “My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine.  I, the LORD, have spoken! ‘I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word’.”This lesson should be especially encouraging to you teachers as we model the Levites in this story and are seeking to make the words of God understandable to children.

Hear O Israel - worksheet

Hear O Israel – worksheet

Print worksheet on card-stock.  Cut the portion containing the scroll, which leaves a space to write the memory verse.  Have the kids write their memory verse first thing , then they can color the page and prepare the scrolls. Cut carefully around scroll.  For younger kids, you will want to pre-cut the scrolls. You will need 2 toothpicks for each scroll.  Before class,  measure and cut the ends off the toothpicks.  The kids can color them with brown markers and glue one to each end of the scroll….centering them.  Roll up each end  of the scroll tightly, meeting in the middle (see sample).  If you have printed the scrolls on card stock, they should keep their shape rather well.  Glue or tape into Ezra’s hands.

Nehemiah Restores Hope


nehemiah 2

Nehemiah has so much to teach us so I hope you take the time to read Ezra and Nehemiah.            (Zechariah and Haggai also, if you have time…as they all tie together.)  Here is what is happening in a nutshell:  the Lord had stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to let the Jews go back to rebuild the temple. Only 42,360 went with Zerubbabel to reestablish the worship in Jerusalem.  They had just laid the foundation of the temple with much rejoicing but were frustrated in their plans by great opposition and forced  to stop until the second year of Darius.  Haggai and Zechariah prophesy to the Jews and they were encouraged to begin  the project where they left off .  The temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius.   Sixty years pass and Ezra, a  priest and skilled scribe, comes to Jerusalem to teach the Lord’s statutes and ordinances with much treasure to beautify the temple. The heads of families who accompanied Ezra  number 1,496.  After fasting and prayer, they arrived safely .  Ezra then received the bad report from the leaders that 17 priests, 10 Levites and 86 laymen had  inter-married with pagans, which was strictly forbidden by the LORD. This sin had to be severely dealt with.

Now we come to Nehemiah.  He was a cup-bearer to the king, Artaxerxes, and was given  upsetting news in the 20th year of this king’s reign.  Some men from Judah reported that the people in Jerusalem were in great distress and disgrace  because their walls were broken down, and their gates were burned with fire.  Nehemiah wept over this state of affairs, and prayed that the king would let him go to help his people.  The king granted Nehemiah’s request for letters assuring his safe passage and timber for the gates and the house he would occupy .  The enemy was “deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” The people were rallied and able to complete the great work in 52 days in spite of tremendous hostilities. (If you are teaching chronologically, this lesson would be taught after Esther.) This book is remarkable to me, not only for it’s encouraging spiritual lessons, but because the LORD honors each worker explicitly by name…what  great treasure and reward is stored up for them in eternity!

Nehemiah – worksheet

Color both pages…match stones below with the main wall in the worksheet above.  Cut out stones and glue per sample above.  We want to learn the proper tools to fight the enemies’ opposition, so cut out and glue the tools (have kids choose where they want to glue tools…there is no “right” answer, each tool will overcome any of the “stumbling blocks”…please extend the “y” on the bottom stone (conspiracy)…it got cut off in the scan!